Firstly it's all about the training!

  • If this is your first marathon then you’re body may take a little bit longer to adjust to the training.

  • Realistically you need to be training 4 days a week - 3 days of running, 1 day of stretching/pilates or yoga and 2 days fully resting. Don't feel that you have to clock up the miles in the first few months. It's all about time on your feet.

  • Use the weekends to do your long runs and Monday's as a rest day.

  • If you're finding it hard to do continuous running then take the run/walk approach. Do this until you are happy that you can run for 30-40 minutes without stopping. Gradually increase your running with time and distance. For example run for an extra 2 minutes or mile. A lot of people do this on race day, so don't feel under pressure to run the whole of the marathon.

  • Race week and Recovery Tips

    The week leading up to race day can be extremely daunting. The nerves kick in and all the doubts of “Have I done enough training?!” play over and over in your mind. Probably enough to make you go slightly insane with worry! When preparing for race week I make sure I follow these top tips:

    Race week

    1. Taper and minimise your training.

    Every individuals training is different. For example as a personal trainer and instructor I train everyday whether it being running, classes or with clients. I teach over 16 classes a week mixing up Spinning, Bodypump, conditioning, HITT, Pilates and various others. However, the average marathon runner might just run. It’s crucial that you taper this week. Shorter runs averaging 4 miles and less sprint work. An example of my pre-marathon week:

  • Monday - rest or 5k
  • Tuesday – speed work (1 mile warm-up then 4-6/90 second sprints)
  • Wednesday – 6 miles @ marathon pace.
  • Thursday - 4-6 miles slow.
  • Friday/Saturday – walk/rest
  • Sunday – race day!

  • 2. Fuel and Hydrate.

    Carb Loading... well, you either love it or hate it! For me I hate it. I feel sluggish by the end of the week and feel as if I’ve put on weight, which is inevitable if you’re doing less exercise and eating more. Nevertheless this is vital. You need to load up and store energy into your muscles for race day. Glycogen is the main fuel muscles use in order to perform when you run. Carbohydrates are broken down by the body and turned into glycogen, which is then stored in the muscles. This is essential for long-term endurance. Why not try these Carb filled foods:

  • Pasta (I eat gluten-free pasta as I suffer from IBS. It’s just as good)
  • Baked potatoes
  • Rice
  • Couscous
  • Beetroot (Studies have shown this enhances running performance!)
  • Porridge

  • Now onto Hydration. This is just as important, if not more as carb loading. Your body is working overdrive during the marathon. You can sweat out on average 3 litres per hour (depending on weight and speed). It is critical you consume water little and often during the week but also remember not to drink too much during the marathon. Over Drinking can lead to too many toilet stops but also cause ‘Hyponatremia’ which occurs when you have low sodium in your body and can actually kill you. Little and often is the key.

    3. Avoiding illness.

    Maintaining good health and wellbeing is hard to do when your body is rundown from training. Especially if this is your first marathon. This is when your body can catch all sorts of illnesses. Try and keep your distance from anyone close to you who is poorly. Use anti-bacterial gel if you’re travelling. The worst places to catch bugs are on trains, cash points and shopping trolleys. These are some supplements I take to take to stay healthy:

  • Vitamin C 100mg – boost your immune system.
  • Magnesium – Muscle relaxation.
  • Green Tea – tablet or fluid form. Used as an Antioxidant and energy booster.
  • Floradix – Drives my iron levels up to help with Fatigue.
  • Vitamin D3 – Another immune booster. Helps absorb calcium for strong bones.

  • People may not believe in supplements but I swear by Vitamin C and Magnesium. They have made a huge difference to my training and have never looked back.

    4. Epsom Salt bath and Sports Massage.

    Ahhh.... now this is more like it! A lovely massage! Well, that all depends on your therapist. I’ve had many different sports massages in the past. Some good, some bad. I finally found the ultimate masseuse and try to have her before each race. It’s good to stick to the same person as they learn to know your body, so they can detect anything dissimilar in your body. The painful massages are the best ones! During marathon training your muscles tighten and can cause injury further down the line if not treated. Another way to loosen and relax your muscles is an ‘Epsom Salts’ bath. I put about half a kilo in my bath but on average you need 4 cups in warm water. Then sit back and relax for a minimum of 20 minutes for the magnesium in the salts to ease your muscles. You will also have the best nights sleep ever!

    5. Make a list for race day.

    There’s nothing worse than turning up to a race and realising you’ve forgotten something. Make a list at the start of the week, as you may need to go out and buy certain items like energy-gels.
    Here’s a list of things I take:
  • Energy gels (I consume 5 during a marathon but take 7 in case someones forgotten theirs)
  • Race number and pins.
  • Race chip (if not attached to your number)
  • IPod and headphones (I cannot run without music!)
  • Water bottle (Filled with an electrolyte sports drink)
  • Warm clothes to throw away at the start (you need to put your bag away early. To keep warm take some old or cheap clothes.)
  • Bin bag (to stay dry or sit on)

  • Hopefully all this information will help you towards race day!


    This is one of the most important aspects of running a marathon. You just want the marathon to be done so you can go and celebrate but recovery is extremely important. Your muscles experience millions of micro-tears and a huge build up of lactic acid. You need time for your body to repair itself.
    Here are some tips to help your body recuperate:

    1. Keep moving and Stretch.

    The worst thing you can do is to stop moving. Once you cross that finish line keep walking. When you finish a marathon the first thing you want to do is stop and sit down. Try to avoid this. Carry on walking slowly for at least 5-10 minutes, Then stop to stretch. This will make a huge different to how you feel for the duration of the week. As soon as you stop, you’ll cramp up and will take forever for you to get back onto your feet.

    2. Refuel with Protein.

    Protein is a necessity for post-marathon recovery. It helps speed up muscles repair and reduces the response from the stress hormone cortisol. It also encourages glycogen replacement. You need to make sure you eat within 30 minutes of finishing your marathon, even if it’s a protein bar. Dairy and Meat are packed full of protein but with Veganism becoming extremely popular this past year for athletes, you’ll find loads of protein sourced foods to choose from.

    3. Hydrate with electrolytes.
    You will have lost a lot of electrolytes from sweating. Potassium and sodium regulate your body’s water balance whilst running and help your cells to maintain the right amount. The majority of sport-based drinks contain electrolytes, the key one being Lucozade. I sip these during the marathon as well as after to avoid dehydration that can cause sickness and even fainting. When I stepped over the finishing line at Boston 2017 I collapsed from severe dehydration, which caused severe cramp. It was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced and never want to suffer like that again.

    4. Ice bath or Epsom salts bath.
    I’ve never personally had an ice bath but I know a lot of runners that swear by them. I’m too much of a wimp to try! So I stick with my beloved Epsom salts bath. Ice baths reduces swelling, constrict blood vessels and tissue breakdown, as well as flushing out toxins. Epsom salts does pretty much exactly the same by flushing out waste, works as an anti-inflammatory and brings blood flow back to the legs. This is vital for muscle recovery and repair.

    5. Celebrate, Relax and Sleep.
    All those months of hard work are over. You’ve accomplished a massive achievement and should take the week to celebrate. Show off your medal and be someone that people can aspire to. This is your week to feel like a superstar. Just remember to relax and catch up on your sleep. Your body need to repair itself, so take as long as you need. Perhaps take the next day off work and just spend the day sleeping, walking, stretching and chilling out. Have some me time. Every individual will recover differently depending on fitness level. My first ever marathon took me a whole week! Oh the pain, the blisters and stairs became the enemy. Nowadays I feel fine the next day with only a few niggles. Shows what the right training and recovery can really do. Although... I do still take the next day off so I can celebrate with a few drinks!!

    I hope my top tips help you with your journey on becoming a marathon runner!! - berks, herts & bucks personal training Website developed by Chilcomp Ltd